Mother and Baby investigation and Children First Act among priorities for James Reilly

Some want Protestant institutions, county homes, former inmates of psychiatric asylums and fostered children to be included in an inquiry


The most delicate item in the in-tray of new Minister for Children and Youth Affairs James Reilly will be getting the terms of reference right for the investigation into mother-and-baby homes.

Myriad groups, all deserving to have their cases heard, have made submissions for inclusion.

As well as survivors of the mother-and-baby homes, it has been argued the commission should inquire into all issues surrounding the separation of single mothers and their babies and children since 1922 including the inhumane and degrading treatment, high mortality rates, vaccine trials and banished babies.

Arguments have been made for the inclusion of Protestant institutions, county homes, former inmates of psychiatric asylums and fostered children.

Others have warned the investigation should not be too ambitious and become unwieldy.

The terms of reference are to be announced on Thursday.

On a related issue, Mr Reilly will also have to decide on reform of adoption legislation, so adoptees can access information about birth mothers.

Groups working with children last night called on the Minister to prioritise enactment of the Children First legislation, which will make it mandatory for anyone who has concerns about a child’s welfare to report these to the Child and Family Agency.

The Bill is going through the legislative process but has faced opposition from some who promise confidentiality, such as counsellors, Samaritans and priests hearing confession.

Also on the Minister’s summer reading list will be briefing documents on whether to extend the free pre-school year to two years; reform of the youth justice system; funding the Child and Family Agency; regulation of creches; youth homelessness and the welfare of youths leaving State care.